These states are data leaders (3 lessons you can learn from them)

Cities may be in our name, but we actually advocate that all levels of government find innovative ways to use data to serve people — and the planet — better. And all can learn from each other.

There’s a new report — The Best States for Data Innovation — that’s worth at least glancing through. Prepared by the non-partisan Center for Data Innovation it ranks each of the states on a number of data measures.

In order, Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, California and Delaware are the top 5 states. Below, we’ve highlighted a few reasons why — and what you can learn from them. — Kevin Ebi

1.A high-tech workforce is an advantage.
There’s no question that a well-educated, high-tech workforce can give you an edge. The leading states all have them. Massachusetts has the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Washington is home to high-tech leaders like Microsoft and Amazon. California has Silicon Valley. Maryland is home to some of the highest-paying tech jobs in the country.

Do you have those kinds of resources in your city? You can use them to your advantage. And if this is an area where you lag, understand, of course, that you can’t change it overnight. But do be aware that investments in attracting and retaining these workers can pay off.

2. Government needs to take the lead.
One strategy is to make data available and hope that tech entrepreneurs find some useful public benefit for it. But the leading states are much more proactive.

The report authors found that the leading states had taken the time to develop statewide e-government, open data and data privacy strategies. It’s hard to be successful if every department is deciding for itself how to use and share data. Effective strategies come from the top and stretch across.

3. There is always room for improvement.
The report found that nobody did everything well. For instance, first place Massachusetts ranked last for legislative data. Second-place Washington, despite its thriving tech industry, ranked 35th for STEM degrees. Third-place Maryland ranked 46th for public access to government data. Fourth-place California ranked 45th last for government financial data.

After you get an early win from any data project, look for the next one. There is always a next one.